TOKYO—Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto) today announced the launch of a cross-border e-commerce website (Note 1), a business to export used agricultural machinery to Africa through a business partnership with Karasawa Agricultural Machinery Service (President: Takeyuki Karasawa; Headquarters: Tomi City, Nagano Prefecture). In addition, MOL will establish “KiliMOL” (Representative: Mikio Oyama; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo) in May 2021 to handle the new business.
In September of last year, MOL and Karasawa Agricultural Machinery signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) related to the business, and worked together to study the prospects for commercialization. Initially, the business will target Kenya in East Africa, a major agricultural center with many small farms and a region showing tremendous economic growth. In January this year, MOL procured five units of used agricultural machinery from “noukinavi.com” (Note 2) operated by Karasawa Agricultural Machinery, and transported them on the MOL-operated car carrier “Marguerite Ace” from the Japanese ports of Kobe and Kisarazu to Mombasa, Kenya. In March, MOL and Karasawa Agricultural Machinery conducted a demonstration test to confirm that Japanese agricultural machinery could perform effectively on local farmland near Mwea, a suburb of Nairobi. After that, it presented a demonstration of the machinery for local farmers and machinery owners. The on-the-spot inspection confirmed the effectiveness of Japanese-made small-scale agricultural machinery, and impressed the local farmers and other observers.
In the future, use of agricultural machinery is expected to increase in Africa and other developing countries, so demand for used equipment is likely to grow as well. To establish a business that can meet this demand, MOL decided to establish KiliMOL.
KiliMOL will contribute to improved agricultural productivity in developing countries in combination with MOL’s high-quality, safe, and reliable transport service and Karasawa Agricultural Machinery’s strength in procuring high-quality used agricultural machinery from all over Japan, while addressing food shortages in countries with rapidly growing populations.
The MOL Group will enter the e-commerce business to expand its logistics business domain and plans to expand the scope of the business beyond the trade of used agricultural machinery in Africa by reinforcing the activities of its group company in Kenya.
Meanwhile, KiliMOL Representative Oyama came up with the idea for the business and realized it through the “MOL Incubation Bridge” (Note 3), an MOL Group employee proposal system. MOL Group employees are united to achieve ongoing progress in addressing social issues with new ideas and new approaches.
Agricultural machinery being loaded on the Marguerite Ace
Three tractors cultivate a field during a demonstration in Kenya.
A demonstration of rice harvesting using a combine harvester in Kenya
Outline of KiliMOL (plan)
(Note 1) The cross-border e-commerce website handles global online product sales.
(Note 2) “noukinavi.com” is an agricultural machinery distribution platform with over 300 machinery dealers and cumulative transaction volume exceeding ¥1.2 billion.
(Note 3) The MOL Incubation Bridge system was introduced in September 2019, with the objective of providing opportunities for MOL Group employees to maximize their skills and abilities and proactively challenge themselves, and has fostered out-of-the-box thinking in the creation of new businesses and services in the changing business environment. During the first year after introducing the system, Oyama, who joined MOL in 2004, submitted this new idea, and it was adopted. He started evaluating the business on a full-time basis in April of last year, and confirmed its commercial viability. The business is the second one launched through the MOL Incubation Bridge system, following the corporate venture capital company “MOL Plus.”
[About Karasawa Agricultural Machinery Service]
The company was founded by commercializing agricultural machinery repair services. While its main businesses are sales, repair, and restoration of agricultural machinery, it operates internet businesses such as website production, marketing, and consulting services. In addition, it operates the agricultural machinery distribution platform “noukinavi.com,” bringing together more than 300 agricultural machinery dealers all over Japan, and posting cumulative transaction volume of more than ¥1.2 billion. The company is developing a pioneering agriculture-related business under the concept “Agriculture x IT.”
Trade name: Karasawa Agricultural Machinery Service
President: Takeyuki Karasawa
Address of headquarters: 846-1 Kurakake, Tomi City, Nagano Prefecture
Business: Sales of new and used agricultural machinery, repair and restoration of agricultural machinery, operation of coin-operated rice polishing machines, internet business (web consulting, marketing support, operation of agricultural machinery distribution support website, e-commerce website, and information media)